Tag Archives: Turkey Mountain Master Plan

New Trails Coming to Turkey Mountain

Big News out today in Tulsa for those of us who love the Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. The RiverParks Authority has announced that it is beginning the first phase of the Turkey Mountain Master Plan. Construction on thirteen miles of trail will begin this Fall. The trails are being designed by Progressive Trail Design who designs and build trails all over the country.

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This is huge news for Tulsa. Six years ago a company announced plans to build an outlet mall on the mountain. It seemed like an unstoppable force but a small group of citizens (the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition) organized opposition to the outlet mall and guess what, the mall decided to go somewhere else in town. And further, that somewhere else, the company scraped off a bunch of dirt and started construction and then quit (they say only temporarily) leaving kind of a big muddy mess. (Thank goodness they didn’t do that on Turkey Mountain is what I say.)

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Two years ago the RiverParks Authority got funding to develop a master plan. As part of the process input was provided by thousands of Tulsans on what they wanted Turkey Mountain to look like. What they came up with was wonderful. Check it out here. A great plan but an unfunded plan.

Wagon Wheel Lake

So now they have enough funding for the design and construction of thirteen miles of trail. Professionally designed trail rather than overgrown deer trails.

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Lots of races are run on Turkey Mountain every year.

The existing trails on Turkey, although we love them were not designed. They just kind of happened. We have trails that go straight up hillsides and those trails are eroded rocky boulder fields now. The trails are not sustainable and get very muddy after rains where the water puddles up.

Turkey Mountain cleanup June 2015
Several work days per year on Turkey Mountain

The new trails will be more accessible to a wider population segment. I’m pretty comfortable on Turkey Mountain now but it took me years to get that way. I know which trails are almost impossible to traverse. As new trails are built, many of the older trails are going to blocked off and retired to let the land rest. All this is exciting news.

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Want to learn more? Listen to the Official Turkey Mountain podcast. Ryan Howell of the RiverParks Authority talks about the problems with the existing trails and the promise of the new. He also talked about restoring the bulk of Turkey Mountain to an Oak Savanna via the use of prescribed burns and removal of non-native species. He also discusses the history of Turkey Mountain including tales of buried gold and Viking explorers.

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A new trail being built

Consider joining the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition. It’s a nominal cost and you will find out about work days, which are a lot of fun. TUWC’s scope is all the urban wilderness spaces in Tulsa, not just Turkey Mountain. They have become a resource for other organizations in the Tulsa area. (Full disclosure, I am am member, and all opinions on this blog are my own.) Check out and like their facebook page.

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Sunset on the mountain

If you are on instagram follow the Turkey Mountain account. (more full disclosure, I post photos to that account once or twice a week.)

Follow the Turkey Mountain Facebook Account and their Public Trail User Forum also on facebook.

Monarch Way Station on Turkey Mountain built last year as part of Monarchs on the Mountain event last year. The event will be be September 17 to 19 this year. Check out their web page for the details.

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You can only legally camp one night a year on Turkey Mountain during an event called Base Camp. It is a fun camping and music festival. This year on October 2 and 3.

It is exciting to see the results of a small group of people who stood up to big corporations and City Hall and won. (Just to be clear, I was not one of those people, but I was cheering them on.)

Linking with Our World Tuesday

Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness – Public Input Needed for a Master Plan

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The Tulsa Riverparks Authority announced some exciting news recently. They have funding to develop a master plan for Tulsa’s beautiful Turkey Mountain Urban Wilderness Area. You can read the Tulsa World article here.

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The best part of the news is that they want input from everybody including the general public. They have hired Micahael Van Valkenburgh Associates Inc to develop the master plan. They are the landscape architecture firm that designed Tulsa’s Gathering Place.

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A series of public meetings have been scheduled. (Check the Tulsa World story for details.) And if you can’t make it the meetings or if you just cannot wait to participate, you can make comments on the web here.

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You may remember the events of three years ago when Simon Malls announced plans to build an outlet mall of all things on Turkey Mountain. A small cadre of people who founded the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition stood up to them and said No. They were able to mobilize the general public and community leaders to save Turkey Mountain and Norton decided to build somewhere else (and they haven’t built an outlet mall in Tulsa yet) and funding was found to buy the private tract and eventually it will be transferred to the River Parks and preserve it from commercial development.

Jumping and Kicking Tree

And all that is great but this latest effort is needed to come up with a plan for Turkey Mountain. What does the community want Turkey Mountain to be. The threatened mall awakened the community and now the Mountain has more visitors than ever but there is no one person in charge of it and there is hardly any budget to maintain it.

Turkey Mountain 3d Photography

This master plan is a first step to defining what we want for public mountain and how to go about funding it. I’m pretty pumped about it actually.

So check out the Tulsa World Article and the River Parks website. Also check out the Tulsa Urban Wilderness Coalition and think about joining them.